Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ethnic cleansing

Oct.14, 2007

'Ethnic cleansing' in Iraq

An Arab affairs specialist has observed that the displacement of people within Iraq as a result of the post-war "ethnic cleansing" could be a key factor that helps the continuing fragmentation of the country.
Magdi Abdelhadi, a BBC Arab affairs analyst, quotes Ghaith Abdul Ahad, an Iraqi journalist, as saying that the areas where displaced Iraqis live have become fertile recruiting-grounds for militants.
"The insurgents in west Baghdad tell me that the hardest fighters are the Sunnis who have been kicked out of their homes by the Shiites," says Abdul Ahad.
With more than two million Iraqis displaced within the country (in addition to the more than two million who have fled the country are now refugees mainly in Syria and Jordan), there is no dearth of volunteers for insurgent recruiters. Taking up arms also offers them the opportunity exact revenge from those who displaced them from their homes.
The reluctance of the local authorities in the places of refugee to take in and care for the new arrivals is yet another contributor to the rising number of insurgents.
The displacement becomes all the more critical when we note that the plight of those who have fled their homes but have not been able to leave the country is dire, as noted by the UN refugee agency.
The central government insists that it has instructed the local authorities to take care of the displaced, but the instructions go unheeded because there is no effective means for the central authorities to exercise control over provincial officials. And then there is the local politicking where many seem to be detemined to funnel away state money to themselves since they don't believe that they would ever be called to account.
The displacement, unprecedented in the Middle Eastern history even beyond the Palestinian refugee crisis, has dangerous regional implications.
Syria has more than a million Iraqis in its territory and Jordan has some 750,000. Both governments are hard-pressed to deal with the influx and hence their move to prevent the entry of more Iraqis.
However, with little or no sign of an end to the insurgency being waged in Iraq, it would appear that the Iraqis in both countries are destined to remain stuck there for years to come. And it does not take much imagination to envisage what the presence of refugees would do to the national stability of the host countries.